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By M. Morrison

Stories in Avian Biology is a chain of works too lengthy for The Condor, released at abnormal periods via the Cooper Ornithological Society.

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However, others have found regression estimators employing sweep-net sampling to be generally unacceptable (Byerly et al. 1978, Purcell and Elkinton 1980, Ellington et al. 1984). Marston et al. (1982) found sweep netting to collect some groups of insects more efficiently than others, so resulting ratio estimators varied in precision. They also provide some sample size guidelines for sweep netting in ratio estimation schemes. Sweep netting does not provide a measure of absolute density and it is biased in several ways.

Consequently, all trees could be watched simultaneously for bird activity. The observer (myself or an assistant) observed for 90 min before moving to another group of trees. From 18 June to 1 July 1985, we recorded bird activity between 07:30 and I l:OO. Observation times were rotated so that each group oftrees was watched for 180 min during each half of the morning. When a bird landed in an experimental tree, we recorded the tree number, time of day, bird species, duration of its stay in the tree (in set), its activity (feeding, singing, or perching), and when possible, its foraging attack rate (recorded as number of pecks/set of observation).

In reviewing 155 recentpapersthat deal with the role of food supply, I found that most authors justify use of a particular sampling method by intuitive arguments and numerous assumptions. An intuitive approach may be inadequate, however, because (1) we do not perceive food availability in the same manner that birds do, (2) we ignore scale-of-measurement problems, and (3) we measure only standing crop. To avoid those potential problems, I suggest using quantitative measures of behavioral acts that are necessarily correlated with variation in food abundance as a “check” on the reliability of measurements of food availability.

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